deep breaths.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Inhale, and exhale.

I'm laying in my old bed, surrounded by a wall of twinkle lights. My hair is still damp from my shower, my Dad is watching the nightly news, and for the first time in a long time, my mind feels at ease.

I had one goal when I came home for fourday this semester – I wanted space to breathe. The craziness of the past six weeks have taken a toll on me. Every time I cross something off my to-do list, another two things are added. It's never-ending, and it's been utterly frustrating. I've gotten bits of time here and there to get away, to relax, to process the fact I'm a senior in college and have no idea where I'm headed post-grad, but I haven't had the space I've really needed. This weekend at home has been so, so, good.

I spent last night catching up with old friends in downtown Fresno. Don't let anyone tell you Fresno sucks. We hit a bar down in the Fulton Mall, where we laughed and reminisced on summers at camp around black ales and IPAs, to the sounds of "Resident Alien Invasion." I haven't seen some of these people in over two years, and to be honest, it's exactly what I needed on a late, chilly, Saturday night. For a short moment in time, the stress of difficult exams and paper grades I didn't want, design projects and residence hall responsibilities, fears over my future and worry about where I am now, all subsided. We drank our beers and smiled, laughed over incidents I had long forgotten, and I breathed deeply, and slowly. Space to breathe. Space I needed.

As I drove home at 1 in the morning, after some ice cream and more reunions with old friends, I caught myself listening to some old tunes I was obsessed with in high school, and staring at the clear night sky out of my window. The back roads of the Valley are dusty, with acres of agriculture on every side. Every so often you would pass a lonely, lit, house, or a stoplight. The streets were empty in the middle of the night, and I caught myself thinking again. I moved out of this town 4 years ago, and yet when I come home and drive these dirty roads, it still somehow feels like home.

Coming home is a beautiful thing.

This past week basically destroyed me. Exams, and projects, paintings and midterms, I woke up Friday very tired, and ready for a break. In the mornings, I brew myself up a cup of (strong) coffee and write for a little bit. I have had to make this space, because I know I won't get it if I don't. I sit on my couch, aptly named "big green" with a hot mug of coffee, and write. Usually it's scribbles about how tired I feel, but somethings I have things on my mind that just need written processing.

Sometimes those things make their way onto this blog.

Like Friday morning, as I sipped my coffee, thinking about my life thus far. I thought about the night prior, while listening to some Secondhand Serenade, when a thought struck me. A song had come on my pandora station about missing someone, yearning to be with that person, a ballad with pop punk influences. I was listening to it while doing homework, when suddenly I had a realization. I felt as if a rock had just been dropped into my stomach, and the ripple effect was beginning to take place. I was thinking of no one. I was listening to this song, one that would usually twist my insides as I thought of old heartbreaks or flames I wished were still burning, but there was no one.

It has stuck with me.

There is no individual that consumes the thoughts I have before I fall asleep. There is no weight that holds me down. I finally feel free. Healed. Okay. I finally feel as if I have been stitched back together in such an intricate way, that I can no longer see or feel the stitches. I finally feel okay.

For the record, I'm not one to tell the world when I am struggling with relationships, or singleness, or anything in that whole confusing world that tends to consume us. I don't mention it outside of jokes about the ridiculous amount of people who are getting engaged. On the outside, I suppose it looks like I'm rather content with where I am. And I am. I mean, I am now. It's been a roller coaster of ride to get here, to finally feel okay, and not a lot of people know about it.

To say those words, to feel finally free and healed, is such a huge step. It took a semester of tears, and summer in a new city away from everything, and a constant reminder that I really am strong to bounce back from individuals who have hurt me emotionally, or situations that simply didn't go my way. I've had my far share of reality checks (I don't like to call them heartbreaks), and a few cut me pretty deep.

But here's the thing — we serve a God who is a Healer. And heals things like this. I don't mean in the cheesy, hand God your broken heart and he will mend the pieces, I mean a God who takes completely shattered dreams and completely torn-to-shred hopes, and carefully puts them back together. He takes the time to do this slowly, because if He didn't, and we healed too fast, we wouldn't learn. And the time it takes to learn is often the longest time of all.

For the first time in a very, very, long time, my heart feels ready. It feels strong, ready to love those around me and open itself up to new people. It is not fearful, it not scared. It has been rebuilt into a risk taker that wishes to extend the love of Christ to all who surround me. It is new, it is beautiful, and it has transformed me as well. I finally feel capable of opening myself up to someone new. And that is a realization that takes 10 long months of prayer and seeking God, years of putting faith in the One who directs my life, and constant, absolute constants reminders, that love is patient, and love is kind.

Deep breaths. That is what got me through the last reality check, where I would feel the tears bubbling up and the only way to ground myself was to focus on my breathing. Inhale, and exhale. Repeat. Inhale, and exhale. Repeat. For months I had convinced myself that the stable, little fortress I had built for myself was strong enough. And when it shattered, and I fell to the ground, I was convinced I would never get back up. But once again, I didn't realize that my foundation was something much, much, stronger than that. I was building my own support system on the firm foundation of the Lord, and praise be to Him, brothers and sisters — for that foundation will never fall.

So my question to you is, how is your heart?

Are you bitter from a reality check that left you weeping in the private spaces of your life?
Are you holding your fragile heart in your hands?
Are you refusing to let other peer into the depths and see the testament of our Healer?
Have you watched your supports fall?

Take a deep breath.
Keep going forward.

Love is patient. Love is kind.

Respectfully submitted,
Leah

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